Bayer CropScience launches first global hybrid rice variety resistent to bacterial leaf blight in India

Frank Adam sampling seeds from a rice plantBayer CropScience has announced the launch of Arizedhani, the world's first hybrid rice variety resistant to the dreaded bacterial leaf blight disease, in India. The new rice variety, developed by the research based company located in Monheim, can increase yields by between 20 per cent  and 30 per cent compared to conventional varieties and offers a broad protection against the devastating bacterial leaf blight disease.

''Rice is the staple food in many developing countries and emerging markets. Against the background of growing global demand for this crop, an outbreak of disease can lead to the loss of harvests and endanger the food supply,'' commented Professor Friedrich Berschauer, chairman of the board of management of Bayer CropScience AG. ''We are increasing our expenditure on research and development of innovative agricultural technologies such as hybrid rice seed with the aim of safeguarding rice harvests and boosting yields. Arizedhani is another major milestone for us on the way to develop new rice varieties with higher yields and improved resistance to diseases.''

Bacterial leaf blight is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae oryzae and is one of the most common diseases affecting rice worldwide. It causes considerable yield losses in India up to 60 percent. In this context the hybrid rice variety Arizedhani plays an important part in improving the productivity of rice plants and can thus help to ensure a sustainable supply of this important staple food.

''Hybrid rice is an important crop for Bayer CropScience,'' commented Frederic Arboucalot, global rice manager and head, Asia-Pacific Region in the BioScience business area at Bayer CropScience.

The company markets seven varieties of rice in India. India is a country with a developing economy, a population of 1.1 billion and some 44 million hectares of agricultural land. It grows 128 million tons of rice, making it the second biggest producer of this staple food after China.

''Productivity, however, is considerably lower than in China, with India ranking only 16th in the world'', Arboucalot emphasised.  ''New crop protection products and seeds with greater yield potential need to be developed in order to increase productivity and produce enough food.''

Bayer CropScience is one of the world's leading developers of hybrid rice. High-quality Arizeseed combines high purity and excellent germination capacity with a higher yield potential than conventional rice varieties. Arizewas launched in 2007 in six major countries in Asia (India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan) and in Brazil.

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG with annual sales of about EUR 5.8 billion (2007), is one of the world's leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.